Cameras Dont Make Photographs

12 January 2018Creativity, Photography

Many a person has come up to me to ask, what exactly does one need to hire a photographer for? Photographs depict what actually IS there, right? And the truth doesn’t change based on perception. So as long as I have a decent enough camera to work with, doesn’t the person behind the lens become immaterial?

I’ll tell you why this theory doesn’t hold water. We take photos to capture moments that are beautiful, and when we go back to look at them, we want to feel a whiff of what we felt then. The truth, however, isn’t objective. Just as one picture may tell a thousand stories, what looks perfect from one angle may look extremely ordinary – or even unappealing – from another. Photographs are taken to capture the best possible version of the truth.

And that is where the professional comes in. The lights, the angles, the shades, the tones – even the split-second decision of exactly when to click – all or any of these can be the factor/s that either messed up, or perfected the photo. A photographer takes all of these into account for every one of the photos clicked – because it’s their job. And there is so much more. As Ansel Adams said, “You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

There’s some who object to the touch ups applied on a photo, insisting it deviates from the “real thing”. What is the “real thing”, though? What your eyes see? That’s just another set of lens, too. You’d see very differently if you were, say, a dog. Which is to say which is real? “There is no process so pure that we will ever be free from manipulation”, says David duChemin. If the result, therefore, is beautiful, then that is exactly, what should be desired.

Photography is an art, and it should be treated as such. Any rule restricting it to breathe, in turn stifles the final outcome bit by bit. Let it free – let it surprise you, astound you.